Long Live Netflix!

Netflix kept me quiet during my recovery. VERY quiet. I laid on the bed, mastectomy pillows under my arms, a huge stack of pillows behind my back to make it more comfortable (keeping me at an elevated/angle) and stared at the television. By my side was a little plastic organizing box – in it was the house phone, my 2 cell phones, the TV remote, tissues, a book and a magazine to read if I wanted. This little bin was small enough to sit on the bed next to me and not take up any noticeable room – and also helped me to keep from reaching (or losing) anything that I longed for during my resting time on the bed. I also had two big, long body-type pillows on either side of me (in addition to the mastectomy pillows). I had my own little recovery nest and it was awesome.

When visiting the surgeon to get my ok to return to work, I heard something I hadn’t expected – that I was a “model patient” during recovery. Seems my Plastic Surgeon wasn’t kidding when he and his nurse kept saying how fast I was healing. My surgeon said that to heal quickly, one needs to sit tight, stay-put and REST. Netflix and having my young daughter out of the house for the first week and a half of my recovery really, really helped me stay quiet and I attribute this to my “model patient” status with the surgeon. I had no idea it was THAT important to be quiet. Yes, yes – “don’t over do it.” “Don’t put your arms over your head or your shoulders past 90 degrees. Don’t get your heart rate up for 6 weeks post surgery.” All of these I heard but I’d never heard that a the quieter the patient the faster wounds heal! I had no idea. I kept recalling other experiences I’ve heard of where doctors these days want patients up and walking around a lot, instead of bed-ridden like the old days. The local hospital has information on the walls about how far people are walking based on what loops they are walking on the floor they are on. I had walked around just a bit in the house – maybe 20 min of up and around activity when I had to go to the bathroom, eat my pills, get food and water to replenish – then I’d move around but even then, I was very careful. I also was very careful not to stretch forward. I noticed this as soon as I tried – stretching forward to pick something up – was something I could feel, so I very quickly was careful about not lifting anything heavy (the surgeon never gave me a certain weight not to lift, but even carrying 2 dinner plates was enough to elicit a very light twinge – so I deemed 1 plate enough in the early days).  I think I got lucky and struck a good balance of moving around the house and also resting – especially anything to do with the pectoral muscles. You’d be amazed how much they are involved in.

In the end, for me as I started to get better and do a little more around the house I noticed that even the simple, little movements would make my incision area a little sore. Opening toothpaste or a pill bottle (push and turn). Cutting up a ripe peach. So – the moral of the story for anyone who may go through a double mastectomy – DO take it easy. REST REST REST your upper body. Don’t lift things. Don’t reach for things. Don’t put arms over head until your doctor says you can and give yourself time to heal! Mentally you might feel ok but taking this time for yourself to be quiet, restful is paramount to a faster recovery time – and for me, Long Live Netflix!

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